The perfect home

Interior design trends come and go: anyone who grew up with shag carpeting (possibly making a comeback this year), pastel colour schemes or glass blocks will know that. But we are collectively embracing a few common themes, such as eco-friendly interiors and multifunctional furnishings for small spaces in an urbanising world. There are key design trends to expect in 2019—the move towards more colour in recent years is sticking around, Boho chic is re-emerging—but crucial factors such as that aforementioned urbanisation and technological leaps are having an influence. If you can finally afford a flat this year or are just looking for a fresh home perspective, these are the trends to watch out for.

Material Matters

What our interiors are made from has always been key in design and while marble and stone are constant favourites, engineering and nanotechnology should make serious inroads this year. Gilbert Tam, chief designer at Professional Kitchen Design in Wan Chai is a big fan of nanotech—engineering on the molecular level—for its heat and scratch resistance, thinness and durability. Swapping out conventional laminates for nanotech surfacing is more immediately expensive, but more cost-effective in the long run. “It’s longer lasting than other materials simply for its ability to ‘heal’ itself. The downside is that the colours tend to be plain and matte, and you don’t get the patterns you would in stone,” admits Tam.

Elsewhere, materials like terrazzo, wood and terracotta, carefully used in unconventional locations like the kitchen and bathroom, are other options for 2019. Wood floors in frequently wet rooms pose something of a challenge, but properly treated timber—or waterproof faux timber—bring warmth and rustic charm to spaces often used for entertaining or personal pampering. Metals are not going away either, the exception being in single formats. Mixing metals is on trend, and a room full of one metallic accent is going the way of the dinosaur.

Sustainability and natural materials aren’t going anywhere, but engineered materials are making a case for themselves. “Pre-fabrication has continued to lead the industry, with companies inventing new and efficient materials consistently,” notes Robert Cheng, founder and principal at Brewin Design Office in Singapore, who advocates using both creatively. Combinations of “mixing dull and bright, rough and smooth, cheap and expensive, raw and polished, natural and manufactured … are unexpected [and] make for interesting topics.”

Lay of the Land

As our homes get smaller, the way they function is becoming more important, and homes “function” by layout. Key for the coming year (and ideally every year) is flow and balance, emphasising centre and sightlines, essential in open plan spaces. “Open plan and double volume spaces are great but the planning needs to be carefully considered to prevent spaces from feeling cavernous and empty,” points out Wilson Associates’ Douglas Moon, design director of the studio’s residential unit. “Space is a gift but careful planning adds scale. Add a maximised use of natural light and you create something inviting and welcoming while creating a sense of grandeur.”

Along with creating perfect flow, home wellness (and wellness technology) is taking off. Carving out a space for wellness or relaxation at home—a bay window, a spa vibe in the bathroom, repurposing a spare room—is officially a trend. So much so that Italian architects co.arch created the Bulco for April’s Salone del Mobile in Milan. The Bulco is an all-in-one armchair, coffee table and reading lamp that demands minimal space yet creates a mini haven when tucked in the right corner.

In line with better spatial design is, as always, maximising what you’ve got. A favourite emerging trend for Tam is the seamless kitchen. Transcending handle-less cabinetry and hidden basins are items slowly gaining traction like invisible induction hobs that provide increased counter space and dual storage-dishwashers. As dishwashers become more popular in Hong Kong, Tam argues, “these are ideal for daily use and they save storage space because you can leave the stuff you use all the time in the machine.”

Tech Talk

Sure, Google Glass, 3D televisions and Oculus virtual reality gaming underwhelmed for various reasons, and stayed far from taking the consumer technology world by storm, but for every Glass there’s an iPod, or a PlayStation. In the coming year, expect to see technology as “basic” as 5G networks (higher speeds and lower latency) come closer to industry standard—speeding up IoT devices and functions—and 8K resolution TVs providing 16 times the resolution of HDTV for 33 million pixels (Samsung’s 85-inch, US$15,000, Q900 model is currently available). Of course, there’s no content to go with that (the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 are allegedly being broadcast in 8K on NHK), so your HDTV or 4K sets will be perfectly usable for several years still. On the portable tech front, rumours that Samsung and Huawei are toying with a Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show launch for rollable/folding smartphones are rife; tech geeks expect to see these in 2019.

On the more practical but still connected front, we can expect nearly exponential growth in AI and smart appliances. Ranging from home security to personal assistants and smartphone-enabled mood lighting, “smart home technology continues to advance and become more discrete,” notes Moon. To that end, Click and Grow is perhaps the most current of all home “appliances”. Combining the discretion of a flawlessly integrated houseplant, the wellness ideal of farm-to-table food and technology, Click and Grow brings fresh ingredients to urbanised spaces with its range of fool proof, indoor smart gardens. Does it get more 2019 than that?